The Northeast, like other parts of the country, has been impacted by an epidemic of opioid addiction and overdoses. Within recent weeks, New Haven, Connecticut, has seen multiple opioid overdoses -- three of them fatal.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration and New Haven police, 17 people overdosed in one day alone. Law enforcement officials have said that some overdoses were caused by people ingesting "pure fentanyl" that they believed to be cocaine.
Fentanyl is a type of opioid that reportedly can be up to 50 times as powerful as heroin and can be fatal. It's the drug that a medical examiner determined killed pop icon Prince this spring.
Now Connecticut prosecutors say that three New Haven men who are linked to at least a dozen of these overdoses and two of the fatalities are in custody. The men, in their 40s and 50s, were charged with distribution of controlled substances and intent to distribute. Two are also charged with conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
The three men were arrested based on phone records as well as identification by multiple witnesses. The arrests were reportedly facilitated by the combined efforts of local and federal law enforcement officers as well as medical personnel. One of the men arrested was reportedly hospitalized at Yale-New Haven Hospital for overdosing on the product he was allegedly selling.
In applauding the efforts of those who led the investigation, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who represents Connecticut, noted the importance of "not only investing in law enforcement, but also in addiction treatment services, prescriber education, community outreach, Narcan availability, and other immediately important action."
The three men in this case could face up to 20 years behind bars as well as millions of dollars in fines. However, each case is different. In many cases, people arrested for drug crimes may be facing addiction issues. In these cases, treatment may be far preferable for them and the community than time in prison. Criminal defense attorneys can help people explore their options and work to seek an outcome that's in their best interests.
Source: New Haven Register, "Feds: 3 New Haven men arrested in rash of opioid overdoses," Juliemar Ortiz, June 28, 2016